Getting more out of maps: Goetz Weber’s unusual journey in software application strategy
Mehdi Comeau·Jun 20, 2024

Getting more out of maps: Goetz Weber’s unusual journey in software application strategy

Mehdi Comeau blogjpeg
Mehdi Comeau
Jun 20, 2024 · 5 min read
Getting more out of maps: An interview with Goetz Weber | TomTom Newsroom

Who is Goetz Weber – theoretical physicist, aspiring actor, serial entrepreneur, early-stage CEO and COO, software engineer and strategist, spanning the finance, gaming, mobile, Bitcoin and mapping industries? Somehow, he’s all of these things. We talked to Goetz, now VP of Commercial Innovation at TomTom, to share his story and unpack his passion for transforming the maps market.

Growing up, Goetz was interested in physics. Fast forward, and he made his childhood dream come true: “I am a theoretical physicist by training,” he shares. “My doctoral degree is in quantum field theory.” But Goetz took what he learned and pivoted in a new direction.  

“Using supercomputers to solve extremely complicated equations introduced me to advanced software engineering. After getting my degrees, I went to work for SAP in the financial area, building software applications for banks and insurance companies. But unfortunately, my personality is not that of an engineer,” he admits. “So I shifted from engineering into software strategy and client engagement – sort of a combination of what to build and what to sell next, always balancing the people and technology aspect.”  

Embracing change and building opportunities

Wanting to make a change, Goetz went back to school and completed a part-time Executive MBA program. “I felt that I needed some formal business training,” he explains. “Understanding a balance sheet, marketing and sales seemed to be good skills to have.” 

“During the program, a classmate and I founded a company in the world of application composition. We built the company up with three people and sold it to SAP,” he says. “That was an exciting experience, taking a prototype to a corporate sale. It helped me understand Visionary Selling.” From there, Goetz ended up back at SAP, second in command of the business unit that took the acquired technology mainstream. But soon he pivoted in a completely new direction. “I wanted to change careers and also mindset,” he says.  

“I decided to go into the world of movies,” Goetz shares. “I had studied acting professionally and moved to LA to become a famous actor, and... I failed.” But he wanted to stay in the film industry.  

“I applied what I knew – software design – to the industry I loved – movies – and built a company that enabled B2B video rights trading. It was the world's first operational video rights exchange. After three years, I sold the company and took some time off.”  

All roads lead to mapping 

After the movie business, Goetz joined a mobile company called doubleTwist, becoming the COO. Android had just mainstreamed, and doubleTwist had created iTunes for Android. Samsung wanted to acquire the company, but the deal didn’t go through. Goetz, however, did end up going to Samsung, learning about mobile application operating systems, development and distribution at scale.  

“At Samsung, I worked with Facebook, LinkedIn, Lyft and Uber to create personal applications that leverage the phone in a specific way,” he says. However, tired of traveling too much for work, he left Samsung and switched gears, running a gaming technology company, briefly as CEO. “I loved that company”, he shares. “We created a virtual movie theatre where multiple users could socialize and interact as avatars. We were ahead of our time. Sadly, the multi-threading technology could not handle the traffic, and we sold the company.” 

Following another venture, this time in Bitcoin mining during the early craze, he saw an opportunity and switched again: Goetz went into mapping, joining Here Technologies for almost a decade. “I learned the art of mapmaking and services in detail,” he says, adding: “As a physicist, I love vectors, and they sit at the heart of mapping. Mapping is like making movies with vectors – how could someone not love that?”

A fresh start in the future of maps at TomTom

After deciding to leave Here, Goetz was lying on a beach with a torn Achilles tendon when the phone rang. It was Aaron Golden, a former colleague who’s now SVP of Global Sales at TomTom. Goetz made more calls, talking to various leaders at TomTom.  

He discovered that the company had something unique about it. “There is a humbleness to TomTom, which I didn’t find at other similar companies. Yet TomTom has true industrial know-how in the mapmaking business. That goes top-down and bottom-up. You have to work in mapmaking for years and years and years to gain such an understanding of the complexities,” he shares.  

“So, I joined TomTom,” Goetz says. As VP of Commercial Innovation, he’s focused on influencing software strategy and capturing greater commercial value for the company through technological integrations with partners and applied solutions thinking in the sales process. For Goetz, that means rethinking how maps – and related services – are positioned on the market. “My main focus is to find new, adjacent markets for our technology and assist the sales teams in technical discussions with their clients.” 

Transforming the maps market 

Goetz is excited about the future of TomTom, as the complexity and demand for high-quality maps, and geospatial services and applications increases. “You know, a road is not just a line. It has many attributes. Users are demanding more detailed and dynamic maps,” he says. New technologies accelerate the pace of innovation, bringing both opportunities and challenges.  

"The mapping business is becoming high velocity, high complexity and highly semantic. It’s very specialized. If you look at the reality of the business, there are only a few players in the world that can build this incredibly complex mapping object. TomTom is one of those companies, with deep industrial know-how.”

Goetz Weber, VP of Commercial Innovation, TomTom

But building a complex map isn’t enough. The central challenge Goetz sees is the need to transition from being an ingredient supplier to owning a market segment. "We have to figure out how to capture a greater part of the market value,” he says, “and that's intellectually stimulating.” 

Taking maps further, together

From building to selling, the world of maps is packed with potential right now. TomTom has set out to establish a new standard in global mapmaking with the release of TomTom Orbis Maps, opening up a future of greater innovation and impact thanks to collaboration and open data. 

Leaders, engineers and visionaries like Goetz help ensure that TomTom’s maps will continue improving and creating a positive impact, helping more people around the world. But there’s still so much more to do, both now and into the future.

Are you looking for a new challenge? Join Goetz and make your mark on the world. 

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